director of an HIV / AIDS clinic promotes prevention during awareness month | Health Info

National HIV / AIDS Awareness Month is celebrated in December and as it wraps up, the campaign to raise awareness of the virus, reduce stigma and reduce the number of people contracting and living with the virus. HIV / AIDS will continue.

There is news on two fronts.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their guidelines to encourage doctors to talk to all sexually active people about PrEP to prevent HIV, and the Federal Drug Administration has approved the first injectable treatment for it. prevention of exposure to HIV, Apretude, in December. 20.

“[This] the approval adds an important tool in the effort to end the HIV epidemic by providing the first option to prevent HIV that does not involve taking a pill a day ”, Dr. Debra Birnkrant, director of the antivirals division at the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said in a statement. “This injection, given every two months, will be critical in tackling the HIV epidemic in the United States, including helping those at high risk and certain groups for whom adherence to daily medications has been a major challenge or is not a realistic option. “

It is approved for adults and adolescents at risk for pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) to reduce the risk of sexually acquired HIV.

“We all know that sexual activity is part of everyone’s life, and we must make a choice as a society to limit transmissions,” said Dr. Alex Lacasse, physician specializing in infectious diseases and director of the Clinic of infectious diseases from St. Mary’s Hospital. .

Until then, it had been approved for HIV treatment on a monthly basis, according to Lacasse.

“These drugs have been very effective with minimal side effects,” Lacasse said. “We want preventive medicine because it is the only way to understand HIV and stop its spread so that we are all protected.

Opened in March 2020, the multidisciplinary clinic funded by Ryan White treats people with HIV / AIDS as well as those seeking pre- or post-exposure prophylaxis. In addition to treating people with HIV, the Identification Clinic also provides counseling and information to patients at high risk of contracting HIV, either due to high-risk sexual behavior or intravenous drug use.

“Our clinic is primarily focused on people with HIV, and there is a federally funded program called Ryan White that sets aside funds for HIV treatment because these drugs are extremely expensive for patients who do not have HIV. medical coverage, ”said Lacasse.

According to Lacasse, this is the first clinic with this funding in SSM Health; only a few other clinics have this funding to provide this type of accessibility.

“In HIV care, what we’ve achieved over the years is that the whole picture matters,” said Lacasse.

“We have patients who don’t know what HIV is or have and we have other patients who don’t have a good social or family support system, so we provide that to them. “

The Infectious Disease Clinic (ID) at SSM Health St. Mary’s Hospital – St. Louis provides patients with life-saving medical care for HIV / AIDS and suppresses the number of new cases with an active pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP ).

“The point of this is for them to become aware and get involved in their own health and for them this ultimately means limiting their transmissions, which involves taking medication,” Lacasse said. “

The Identification Clinic is located in the Internal Medicine (IM) Clinic at St. Mary’s Hospital. The IM clinic is a medical home offering comprehensive and holistic primary care.

The clinic currently serves around 85 at-risk patients.

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